Three Men from Mozambique
The first individual is André Kizito, pastor of an Evangelical Assembly of God congregation. Kizito is a highly motivated, well educated man who led a corrupt life in the military before being saved and radically transformed by the Lord. He is one of those believers who seems never to have lost his first love, and God continues to bless him in extraordinary ways and with much success in his many endeavours. He eventually was led into pastoral ministry, giving up a lucrative position with a foreign NGO in order to devote himself full time to serving the Lord. His congregation is too poor to pay him a salary, yet the Lord provides for him in remarkable ways. He recently imported a fine truck from Japan with only 40,000 miles on it for a mere $6,000, including freight! Everyone thought he was being tricked by Internet con artists, but the truck arrived as promised, was in near perfect condition, and has provided excellent service!
Missionary colleagues who assist with the Fiel work and attend Kizito’s church encouraged him to participate in this year’s Fiel Conference. He finally showed up on the third day, and was spell-bound by the messages. It was his first time to hear preaching from a doctrines of grace perspective. When the invitation went out to sign up for the post conference seminar he enthusiastically cancelled all his engagements for the coming week so he could prolong the experience. Kizito is a serious Bible student with excellent Christian experience, so despite the fact that he had not studied theology before, he grasped the material quickly and instinctively, ending up with a final grade of 98% on the 15 tests of the seminar. I thank God for letting me be part of the Fiel ministry and for the obvious delight and blessing it brings to faithful servants like André Kizito.
This was the sixth consecutive year I offered a seminar for those participants at the FIEL conference able to stay on an extra week. Pastor Doug Van Meter from Brackenhurst Baptist Church in Johannesburg helped out by teaching a pastoral course on 1 Timothy to 15 men while I taught systematic theology to a class of 16. Though the material is always well beyond the ken of some students, I was thankful for Kizito and several others whose participation alone would have made the effort worthwhile.
The second man is Jeremias António. Two other students scored as high or higher than Kizito, making this class unusual in having three standout performers, but both of them were fellows from my Saturday Bible classes who were already familiar with some of the material. One was Jeremias António, a young man who was just saved recently after participating a year in the church without seeming to gain any benefit. Suddenly the Lord took hold of him and in the space of a few weeks his world and life were transformed. Since then his spiritual growth has been meteoric, surpassing anything I have seen before in my ministry, and we have had some remarkable transformations. In only three months he devoured and memorized word for word our church’s entire scripture catechism. That amounts to 48 type-written pages containing 365 questions answered by 365 brief Bible passages (but only the answers are memorized). No one has come close to accomplishing all that so quickly. Jeremias’s spiritual comprehension is as remarkable as his memory, as evidenced by his earning the second highest mark in the Fiel Seminar and outscoring all the pastors except Kizito, some of whom were seminary trained with 20 years experience (but still having never read the entire Bible!).
I am pleased to see that when Jeremias learns something from Scripture, a lively faith compels him to put it into practice. Some of the passages in the catechism address Old Testament tithing and Christian giving. In the last 14 years scores if not hundreds of individuals have participated in the scripture memory programme because it is also a means of providing financial aid to people who need it, but Jeremias is the first person ever to ask that 10% of his earnings from the memory programme be set aside for the church. As one might expect, Jeremias’s transformation has attracted the attention of friends and relatives, and presently there are five people attending our services because of what they have seen happening in his life.
Some people may remember the reports on daily Bible reading conducted for the 70 member construction team that built the hospital. Over the months of the project, the workers heard the most prominent O.T. passages prophesying the coming of Christ, the four gospels, Acts, and the first 11 chapters of the book of Romans. This reading schedule was not contrived by me. This was just where the regular Grace Missions workers were in the daily consecutive Bible reading that had begun in Genesis two and a half years before construction began, and where we finally had come to on the last day of the job. Folks familiar with the Bible can readily appreciate that this was a propitious time for unbelievers to be associated with Grace Missions and an outstanding opportunity for me to witness to the many Muslims and neighbours serving on the workforce! God granted excellent opportunities to preach the gospel from compelling passages that came up in the daily reading. Fifty workers bought Bibles from money taken out of their paychecks, and everyone received helpful scripture tracts. We hope many began attending local churches – a few even visited the boss’s church (probably an intimidating business, but they came!).
The third man is Paulo Agostinho. In the case of most of the men one can merely wish hopefully that the seed sown bore some fruit. But we can know with certainty that God spoke to at least one of the workers. His name is Paulo Agostinho. After several false starts, some months ago he finally began faithfully attending both the Sunday services and Saturday Bible studies despite living far from the church. He soon came under conviction, and so he could more easily participate in the church he even bought land in our neighbourhood and erected a mud hut dwelling on it. Recently he asked to be baptized, and unlike most applicants, gave the leaders convincing, knowledgeable answers to all their questions the first time around. We are thankful that God was pleased to grant us this visible evidence that his Word does not go forth in vain or return to him empty without accomplishing what he desires and without succeeding in the matter for which he sent it!
Dr Charles Woodrow is a missionary doctor and serves with his wife Julie in Nampula, Mozambique, with Grace Missions Mozambique.
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